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Toronto FC have a chance to get off to a flying start with Lorenzo Insigne at home

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The Reds are tackling a magnificent part of their calendar just as Lorenzo (Il Magnifico) Insigne joins the club.

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Toronto FC play four straight MLS games at home, starting with Saturday’s game at BMO Field against Atlanta United.

It must be exciting for coach Bob Bradley and the club’s fans, but what’s even more exciting, of course, is Insigne donning the TFC uniform.

Insigne brings a lot to the table and the Reds can use his help. TFC sit 12th in the MLS Eastern Conference (4V 8D 3D), five points clear of a playoff spot – although the club are coming off an emphatic 4-0 victory over their rivals of MLS, CF Montreal, Wednesday night in the semi-finals of the Canadian Championship. Insigne, who has captained Italy and Napoli, will provide additional leadership to the Reds veterans and will certainly bolster the attack for the club, which has recently shown signs of life with most of its injured players back in the squad. ‘alignment. Having Insigne, Alejandro Pozuelo, Jesus Jimenez, Ayo Akinola and Jonathan Osorio all on the pitch would undoubtedly mean plenty of goals and cause nightmares for TFC opponents. Insigne’s preferred position is left wing, but he can also play as a second striker and left midfielder, giving Bradley a number of attacking options. In eleven seasons with Napoli, Insigne has 417 appearances, scored 114 goals and 95 assists in all competitions.

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And while the arrival of Insigne is announced by the TFC fanbase, it must be remembered that a player, no matter how good, cannot lead a mediocre team to a championship. The whole team must be mobilized. TFC goalkeeper Quentin Westberg, who was in goal in the shutout against Montreal on Wednesday, says the Reds cannot expect Insigne to land in Toronto and suddenly lead the team to major success immediately . Expecting Insigne to lead the TFC to the promised land right away puts a huge strain on the small shoulders of the 5ft 4in Italian.

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“To be very down to earth about it, he’s another teammate. It’s great that we have a reinforcement of his quality and I hope that he and his family feel good (in Toronto) so that he settles here as soon as possible. But football is not basketball,” Westberg said. “There are 11 of us. I hardly ever saw one person lifting everyone. It’s about creating a more positive environment rather than expecting everything from one person. And then understand that once you’re on the pitch there’s the 18-year-olds and there’s the 35-year-olds and there’s everything in between. It’s understanding that, as great as he is, we can’t count on a superhero coming along (and doing everything) and we can’t put too many expectations on his shoulders. If we start expecting him to move a mountain (on his own), I think that’s bad for us. That would be a hell of a shortcut. You need to create a supportive environment for individuals to stand out. One player cannot be expected to trigger everything. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

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“One person, no matter how good, can have a very positive impact, don’t get me wrong,” Westberg added. “But you have to create an environment conducive to success.”

What Insigne’s inclusion also won’t address is TFC’s leaky defense. The Reds have allowed 29 goals in 15 games in MLS – the most in the Eastern Conference, although against CF Montreal on Wednesday the Reds posted their first clean sheet since last September. The TFC are reportedly looking to sign one or two other players from Serie A, possibly including Genoa left-back Domenico Criscito, Turin striker Andrea Belotti and/or Juventus winger/attacking midfielder Federico Bernardeschi. Italian media are full of reports that Criscito, 35, may be on his way to Toronto. His club, Genoa, have been relegated to Serie B, so Criscito might be ready for a move.

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Insigne will arrive in Toronto on Friday and attend an event in Little Italy (Clinton and College) around 5 p.m. According to reports from Italy, the 31-year-old Naples native and his wife Jenny have been enjoying a short holiday in the Mediterranean. the island of Sardinia after the end of the Serie A season. The Insigne have two boys, Carmine, 9, and Christian, 7.

TFC signed Insigne to a contract in January – the most lucrative MLS contract ever – four years at around $15 million per season – so there is huge pressure on him and the club. The MLS secondary transfer window opens on July 7, so Insigne’s first game for TFC will be on July 9 when the San Jose Earthquakes visit BMO Field – if he’s healthy and ready to play. The Napoli native recently suffered from a ‘little calf problem’.

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Insigne was probably impressed with Toronto’s game against Montreal on Wednesday night, on two goals from Brampton native Akinola with singles for Jimenez and Pozuelo. The Reds will face Vancouver in the Voyageurs Cup final on a date to be determined in July after Vancouver claimed a second-half brace from striker Brian White to beat CPL side York United 2-1 in the other semi-final on Wednesday. The winner of the final wins the Voyageurs Cup and a trip to the Concacaf Champions League competition next year.

Toronto won the 2020 Canadian Championship title (which was postponed for two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic) on June 4 against CPL’s Forge FC and now has a chance of winning two Voyageurs Cups in one season.

The TFC have won a record eight Canadian championships while Montreal has won five and the Whitecaps one.

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